Today is Day 69 in our journey through the Bible in 90 days.
Jonah was a pretty quick read, wasn’t it? Although it’s only 48 verses long, it has TONS of spiritual insight the longer you keep digging. In fact, I’ve taught the book of Jonah more than any other book in Scripture. Between teaching through the book in 1 sitting as well as taking a few weeks to go verse by verse, I’ve taught it to thousands of people over 15 times all the way through! Even still God speaks new things to me through it each time I open it.
Among others, Jonah was a contemporary of Elisha, Amos, and Hosea. He certainly lived among some amazing men of God. He also lived at the same time as some filthy wicked men…specifically those living in Nineveh. They were known for child sacrifices, inhumane treatment of prisoners, and more. In battle, they would often cut their enemy’s lips off, behead them and wear their skulls as a necklace/trophy, etc. That gives you a small taste of why Jonah didn’t want to go to Nineveh!
One thing that makes Jonah such a popular book among the minor prophets is how real it is. At some point, on some level, every Christian can relate to Jonah in that we’ve all heard what God wanted us to do, but not wanted to do it. In fact, many of us have been Jonah – instead of doing what God said, we ran the opposite direction.
One thing that stands out to me throughout the book of Jonah is God’s love. I see it play out in a few different ways…
GOD’S LOVE FOR HIS PROPHET
Although being swallowed by a whale isn’t at the top of anyone’s lists of things they want to do, it was a loving act by God. He had prepared this gigantic sea creature, placed in exactly the right spot in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, and enabled it to swallow Jonah, but keep him alive for 3 days. Although the creature was a form of punishment, it was also what saved Jonah. It was his life preserver.
Notice the similarity between Jonah 1:1 and Jonah 3:1…
“Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,” – Jonah 1:1
“Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying,” – Jonah 3:1
Jonah 1 was his first chance, and Jonah 3 was his second chance, after he had run the opposite direction. Notice that there is no sarcasm, no rebuke, no harsh word from the Lord, but simply the fact that God spoke again. Even the fact that God spoke to Jonah again is a display of God’s mercy!
God proves the truth behind Paul’s words in 2 Timothy…
If we are faithless,
He remains faithful;
He cannot deny Himself. – 2 Timothy 2:13
Even when we don’t deserve it, God still loves us!
GOD’S LOVE FOR EVERYONE
The sea creature not only proves God’s love for Jonah, but also for the people of Nineveh. Had Jonah died in the Sea, their chance to be warned of judgment would have died too. By keeping him alive, he allowed them to hear the warning.
The Ninevites certainly didn’t deserve to be warned. They were the enemies of God’s people and were horribly wicked. Regardless of how much they didn’t deserve a warning, God went out of His way to make sure they got it. Then, when they repented, He forgave them. That didn’t make Jonah happy, but who cares? He’s a whiner.
Another notable event in the book of Jonah happens in Jonah 3…
“So the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them.” – Jonah 3:5
At the end of the book, God says that Nineveh’s population is 120,000 people. Considering that a typical Biblical census only counted males 20 years and older, that number hints at a population of 600,000 people! Jonah, the running, rebellious prophet was used by God to bring about the greatest revival ever recorded! It’s unbelievable what God can do when you simply speak the message He’s given you to speak!
I’m sure you loved the book of Jonah, as I did. Be reminded that God loves you whether you deserve His love or not. It’s not about how great you are, but it’s about how great He is!